Saturday, August 15, 2009

Some Little Know Oregonian History

As some of you know, Oregon turns 150 years old this year. Yup. In 1859, we ceased being a Territory and became a state. Throughout the year, many newspapers have been going on and on about various points of Oregonian history. Always with the brightest and kindest points along the timeline. And they should. It's a big moment in the state's history. Makes one feel good about being a part of this great corner of the US.

Well, as you can imagine, 150 years is a lot of time and there are so many overlooked events in our history. I did vast research and I was able to dig up many little nuggets of history that I would like to share with you.
  • February 14, 1859: Pres. Buchanan signed the bill allowing Oregon to become a state.
  • February 15, 1859: Pres. Buchanan was quoted as saying, "I did what? Who let me sign anything after the Valentine's Day party?"
  • February 15, 1859: The first signs reading, "Californians Go Home" appear on the border.
  • January 16, 1860: The Oregonian Constitution is drafted on the back of a Henry Weinhard's Blue Boar Ale label.
  • March 23, 1860: As a joke, Lenny Becksworth, one of the first representatives in the new government, submitted Salem to be the capitol city. Other congressmen thought it was funny and voted for it. When Salem was chosen as the City of the State, all were surprised. Portland never allowed Lenny to enter the City of Roses.
  • April 25, 1860: Fist fights broke out on the Oregon Senate floor over the proper pronunciation of "Willamette".
  • October 15th, 1861: Catching the Civil War fervor, Chief Unkluk of the Umpqua tribe stood before both houses of state congress and said, simply, "Yankee go home."
  • October 16th, 1861: Not to be outdone, Chief Wet Salmon of the Coos tribe told the Oregon governor, "Hey, pull my finger."
  • June 28th, 1872: The beginning of the "Year of the Bad Clams".
  • March 18, 1889: Portland was described by renown author, Clifton Spinkerton, as being, "Wow, that's crazy big." He also added that Tom Powell wanted to start a bookstore in the downtown district, but Clifton thought that was the dumbest idea EVER. (Non-Oregonians not familiar with the joke: Powell's is a HUGE book store, one city block and about 4 stories high, in downtown Portland. It's like a mecca to bibliophiles in the NW.)
  • September 4-16, 1892: The Great Pirate War of the Willamette. OK, it wasn't really pirates and it really wasn't all that great, but it was on the Willamette and it involved the Stuckey brothers of Oregon City and a really menacing Sea Lion.
  • December 18, 1901: Toothy McBain, representative of Douglas County, tried to declare war on the Southern neighbor, California, due to being, quote, "Too darn uppity for their own good." The Oregon legislature failed to pass the measure, 18-21.
  • August 19, 1909: During an evening festival celebrating Oregon's 50th birthday, Tank Trubadeaux of Roseburg and Westie Noggerheim of Riddle got into a fist fight over the last piece of strawberry pie. The resultant dust up leveled six city blocks in Portland and injured 158 revelers. Known as the Massive Dust Up of '09, no other brawl has matched it in size or damages.
  • November 12, 1914: As World War I picked up speed on the other side of the Atlantic, Oregonians pitched in to help out the refugees in the war-torn regions. Throughout the state, 14 tons of salmon were collected and shipped to England. In January, 1915, England suffered a huge food borne epidemic, thus called Salmonella.
  • December 5, 1914: The first cars reached Salem.
  • December 6, 1914: The first case of road rage documented on Market Street and Lancaster.
  • May 10, 1923: Nate Blankerstone, of Multnomah County, a self proclaimed hermit and CPA, incorporated a town just East of Portland. One that would be peaceful and calming to all that lived there. Where businesses would close before seven at night and all weekend long. And thus was the town Boring born.
  • November 5, 1931: Skiing became all the rage in the cascades. After the first season, the governor, Jimmy "Steam Donkey" Plinkett, suggested that they remove some of the large Old Growth trees that were in the middle of the ski lanes.
  • January 20, 1940: In a publicity stunt aimed at bringing in more tourist dollars, Larry Flandings and Bob Crank tried to reach the summit of Mount Hood wearing only boots, a wool cap and a pair of boxers.
  • July 10, 1940: The frozen bodies of Larry and Bob were chiseled out of the Coe Glacier on Mt. Hood.
  • March 1956: Not being very clear on the whole "Red Scare" thing of the McCarthyism era, many residents of Willowa County decided to paint their barns a nice shade of blue instead. In nearby Tillamook County, the people of Garibaldi ran out the entire family of "Red" Kinnert.
  • August 14, 1964: State Senator Mav Leonard of Coquille attempted to declare war on Washington state for, "...bein' an awful lot like them Californians." The measure was overwhelmingly passed, but, as the Governor tried to call up the State militia, President Johnson called and to them to "knock it off".
  • July 20, 1969: As Apollo 11 landed on the lunar surface, Oregonians celebrated by having the first "Capitol Beer-In". Unfortunately, as hundreds of locals gathered together on the lawn before the Capitol building, no one paid any attention as it seemed like any other day that Congress was in "session".
  • September 9, 1975: The Black Day of Disco occurred at a dance hall in Bend. About twenty young adults gathered at the Clem Dixon Dance Emporium wishing to spend the night of groovin' and hustlin' to some of MoTown's best vibes. Dressed in short skirts and leisure suits, the small gathering was no match against the forty flannel wearing loggerheads that had taken their dates to the "End of the Nixon Era Ho-down and Square Dance."
  • May 18, 1980: Mount St. Helen's, a volcano in Southern Washington, just miles from the Oregon border, erupts violently. Within days, volcanic ash begins to descend upon most of Oregon, thus prompting the "Get Your Ash Out of Our State" campaign.
  • November 1980: Residents all over the state woke up and, with one voice, asked, "Wait, did we just vote Republican?"
  • November 1984: Residents all over the state woke up and, with one voice, asked, "Hey, did we just do that again?"
  • January 23, 1994: Misty Clarington of Gladstone woke one morning with the realization that there might be something to the rumor that there's more to living than what's in the Willamette valley. Ted Clarington, husband of Misty, promptly picked up his wife, shoved her into the back of his pick-up and drove her to the State Hospital for the Clinically Insane.
  • March 3, 2005: State Measure 33 requesting the alteration of the State Constitution to give power to the State Government to wage war against all states that border Oregon, including Hawaii, in case of strong evidence of those bordering states being, "uppity". The US Supreme court denied the implementation and amendment of the State's Constitution.
  • March 4, 2005: In spite of the US Supreme Courts final ruling, the Clarkston brothers of Klamath Falls made some pretty aggressive gestures toward California. No arrests were made as the Clarkston brothers were the main body of deputies for the County Sheriff.

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